Exclusive Gift Set 71 – St Lidwina (Patron for Chronically Ill)
Exclusive Gift Set 71 – St Lidwina healing oil (1380-1433) was a Dutch mystic who is honored as a saint by the Catholic Church. She is also thought to be one of the first documented cases of multiple sclerosis.
St Lidwina healing oil was born in Schiedam, Holland, one of nine children. Her father was a laborer. At age 15, she was ice skating when she fell and broke a rib. She never recovered and became progressively disabled for the rest of her life. Her biographers state that she became paralyzed except for her left hand and that great pieces of her body fell off, and that blood poured from her mouth, ears, and nose. Today some posit that Saint Lidwina is one of the first known multiple sclerosis patients and attribute her disability to the effects of the disease and her fall.
After her fall, Lidwina fasted continuously and acquired fame as a healer and holy woman. The town officials of Schiedam, her hometown, promulgated a document (which has survived) that attests to her complete lack of food and sleep. At first she ate a little piece of app;e, then a bit of date and watered wine, then river water contaminated with salt from the tides. The authenticating document from Schiedam also attests that Lidwina shed skin, bones, parts of her intestines, which her parents kept in a vase and which gave off a sweet odor. These excited so much attention that Lidwina had her mother bury them.
Lidwina died at the age of 53. She is known as the patron saint of ice skaters.
Several accounts of her life exist. One of these states that while the soldiers of Philip pf Burgundy were occupying Schiedam, a guard was set around her to test her fasts, which were authenticated. It is also reported that four soldiers abused her during this occupation, claiming that Lidwina’s swollen body was due to her being impregnated by the local priest rather than from her sickness.
The well-known German preacher and poet, Friar John Brugman, wrote two Lives of St. Lidwina, the first in 1433, was reprinted anonymously at Leuvan in 1448, and later epitomised by Thomas A Kempis at Cologne in his Vita Lidewigis. The second life appeared at Schiedam in 1498; both have been embodied by the Bollandists in the Acta Sanctorum under 2 April.
Death of Lidwina
Lidwina died in 1434 and was buried in a marble tomb in the chapel of the parish church of Schiedhams which became a place of pilgrimage. Thomas à Kempis’s publication caused an increase in veneration. In 1615 her relics were taken to Brussels, but in 1871 they were returned to Schiedam. On 14 March 1890, Pope Leo XIII officially canonized Lidwina. She is the patron saint of ice skaters and the chronically ill, as well as of the town of Schiedam. Her feast day occurs on 18 March, 14 April, or 14 June, depending on region and tradition.
In 1859 the Church of Our Lady of Visitation (Onze Lieve Vrouw Visitatie) was opened on the Nieuwe Haven in Schiedam, commonly called Frankelandsekerk after the area it was located in (West-Frankeland). In 1931 this church was officially dedicated to St. Lidwina and called Church of Lidwina (Lidwinakerk). The church was demolished in 1969, and the veneration of Lidwina was moved to the Singelkerk, hence known as the Church of Lidwina and Our Lady pf the Rosary. This church was elevated to become a minor basilica on 18 June 1990 by Pope John Paul II. The church is now commonly known as the Basilica of Lidwina.
After the closure of the Church of Lidwina in 1969, the statue of the saint and her relics were removed to the chapel dedicated to her.
Tradition of oils
The tradition of anointing with sacred oil is very old indeed. It is used in sacraments and also as a devotional practice. The sick person applies the oil and blesses themselves. As they do so, they are asked to pray to whomever the oil is dedicated to. The Irish blessings oils do not have miraculous power. It is God who has the power to heal. Applying the oil while praying are important ways for us to express our faith in God’s power. Moreover, by doing so we place our trust in God.